The number of pubs closing each week across the UK has fallen from 52 to 39, according to the latest figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).
The association said that a net total of 1,013 pubs closed between July and December 2009, while a total of 2,365 pubs closed throughout the year as a whole.
But the BBPA said that closures remained at "historically high" level. There are now 52,500 pubs in Britain it said, down on the 58,600 pubs operating when the Licensing Act came into force in 2005.
Figures showed that the number of independently-owned ‘free houses' fell more rapidly than the number of pubs in the leased and tenanted sector. In the second half of the year there were:
- 576 closures among free houses (22 a week)
- 320 closures among tenanted pubs (12 a week)
- 117 closures among managed pubs (five a week)
A significant number of pubs were sold into the free trade, with 735 being transferred into free house ownership from July to December 2009.
Despite the slowing rate of closures, it called on the Government to find ways of avoiding intensifying the burden on pubs.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: "The UK economy may be edging out of recession, but times remain very tough for pubs."
"Continuing pub closures, and the 5% decline in pub beer sales we reported last week, confirm that pubs are not out of the woods yet. In the current climate, the last thing pubs need is a higher tax bill in the Budget. This won't help the public finances either, as closing pubs, job losses and falling beer sales mean less tax revenue for the Treasury."
"Pubs make a significant and valuable contribution to both the national economy and community life. It's time for Government to work with our industry and put into practice policies that support pubs and local communities."
By Neil Gerrard
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